Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gabriel: A Very Small Poodle With A Big Ego



When our teacup poodle Bear first came to us he was nothing more than a wad of fur with two eyes.  He barely weighed eighteen ounces.  To lift him was like lifting a bird; there was nothing there, a bit of cotton candy on the wind, just fluff.  If you've been following my animal stories you'll know that Bear has grown and thrived and sired a son.  The story is here: http://bit.ly/eN5mbM
            My wife met the owner of Bear's mate at the grocery store.  The woman had an AKC registered miniature poodle named Snickers.  A mating session was arranged, and it was successful.  There were two pups from the union of Bear and Snickers: the robust Kioni and the runt Gabriel.  At birth, Gabriel weighed a mere ounce and a half.      
            No one gave him much chance at survival.  He was brought to our place after ten weeks of nursing from mama Snickers.  He weighed a little over two pounds.  He was absurdly cute.  We worried about him.  His development lagged so badly that we thought we might have a special needs dog.  Or worse, he might not make it.
            Gabriel hung on.  He gained weight and bulk.  He's still so tiny that his bark has the quality of a rubber-bulb squeeze horn that clowns use when they ride tricycles.  He is a talker.  In this he takes after his dad.  The voices on super-tiny poodles are like instruments of both torture and comedy.  These dogs don't yap.  They howl, yammer, moan, scream, ullulate and speak in nearly human syllables.
            Gabriel makes up for his smallness through cunning.  He's a wily little provocateur.  He is half Bear's weight.  I often think it's Gabriel who is the alpha dog of their little pack.  If he wants the chewy toy that Bear's pulverizing, he takes it away.  If he wants to lay on mom's lap while she's sleeping, he'll bother Bear until he vacates the warm comforting nest that goes up and down with mom's breathing.
            Bear adopts a cool attitude.  "You want to be alpha?  Okay, be alpha.  I don't care.  You're a pipsqueak and I could eat you for breakfast.  I don't care.  Be alpha."
            That would work except that Gabe is a teaser and taunter.  Gabe goes
'neener neener", blows raspberries, gives the finger.  Or the psychic four-legged equivalent of these gestures.  Don't treat this as hyperbole.  The gamut of subtle communication available to these creatures is enormous.  If we, as humans, fail to perceive what goes on amongst our animal friends, that's due to our lack of sensitivity.
            When Bear is sufficiently provoked to knock Gabe sprawling he goes crying to mama.  Gabe is a real crybaby.  He screams as if he's being tortured when mom picks a burr out of his paw.  We have to hold our ears.  Ow!  What a piercing, pathetic wail!  We've learned to take Gabe's screams with a grain of salt.  He screams for effect.  When the burr-extraction is done, he calmly goes  his way. 
Peaches as a kitten
            The animal count in and around our RV/home is two dogs and four cats.  There are two indoor cats, bright orange tabbies.  We have a sluggish long haired male named Andrew and his sister, a short-haired female named Peaches.  
            Peaches talks, nags, wakes us in the middle of the night, demands Whiskas cat treats like an addict.  Peaches is a pain in the ass.  Her voice  isn't annoying like the yowl of a Siamese cat.  It's more like a car alarm that won't go off.  Ever.
            An oft-repeated refrain in our home is this: "Peaches, will you SHUT UP!"  No, excuse me.  It's really "Peaches will you SHUT..THE..FUCK..UP!"
          The Whiskas quiets her down only because she's busy chewing.  If she could meow and chew at the same time, she would.  She wants attention.  She wants to be on the bed because other creatures are on the bed.  She wants the cat toy Andrew is playing with.  She wants me to scratch her belly.  She wants whatever someone else has.  And she bitches about it incessantly.
            One remedy is the squirt bottle.  We keep squirt bottles loaded and near at hand.  A mere shake of a squirt bottle will often cause Peaches to run, hide, and, mercifully, to be quiet.  We're not cruel.  Peaches gets plenty of love.  It's just never enough.
            Gabriel and Peaches have a special relationship.  Gabriel has appointed himself the official Peaches Squelcher.
            Peaches teases Gabriel until he chases her down the length of the RV so that she has to jump on the dashboard.  Then she acts as if Gabriel started it.              
          There's a little step at the foot of our bed to enable Gabe to join us without needing a lift.  The step has become, in our household spatial economy, a choke point.  Who controls the step controls access to the bed.  Peaches likes to park herself on the step and wait for Gabriel to try using it to get up or down.  Gabriel is stuck.  Peaches knows this.
            A staring contest ensues.  It goes on and on.  Five minutes.  Seven minutes.  Ten minutes.  Peaches and Gabriel, staring at one another.  Then, booom! an explosion of running cat and dog as Peaches takes off towards the dashboard with Gabriel hot and barking on her tail.  She gets up high where she can't be reached.  She pretends total innocence.
            Neener neener neener.  Raspberry.  Middle finger.  Or the psychic four-legged equivalent of these gestures. 
            Gabriel may not have Bear's power and stamina but he compensates with ruthless unprincipled trickery and manipulation.
            The litle shit.  We love him.